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There’s been a lot of bad news coming out of Sacramento lately: homelessness, the foreclosure rate, unemployment, political gridlock in a state crippled by the recession. Add to that a stubborn case of politics fatigue, and you’ve got a lot of reasons to write off this city. But we trekked to California’s beleaguered state capital to peek behind the national headlines and find out who keeps this city running—day in, day out—despite all that’s going wrong. And we left with the realization that people in Sacramento are remaking the American city, in surprising and deeply moving ways.
It’s hard to muster any optimism for California state politics these days. But capitol interns Callin Curry (a Democrat from Oakland) and Catherine Wahlgren (a Republican from Southern California), bring a glimmer of hope in a dark time. Then, when budget cuts slashed maintenance staff at Land Park, this jewel of the city became an overgrown mess. Fifth-generation Sacramentan Craig Powell masterminds a solution to rescue the city’s biggest and best-loved park.
There’s no over-estimating the love fans here feel for their Sacramento Kings, one of the city’s few big attractions. But last winter, the King’s owners put in motion a plan to move the team down to Anaheim, and fans here reacted more powerfully than anyone could have imagined. We follow the ups and downs as the dramatic—and possibly final—Kings season unfolds. And, about 15 miles outside of town, a double-wide trailer houses KJAY 1430 AM, Sacramento’s last family-owned radio station… which has recently become a magnet for an entirely different community here. Then, local poet Josh Fernandez scours the streets for his prized possession.
A few years ago, the national media swarmed Sacramento’s tent city, where hundreds of people make their homes in makeshift shelters. It was portrayed as a symbol of the recession and the housing bust. The truth is, though, the tent city has been here for years. And beyond those national headlines are stories of people who have been working on innovative solutions to this crisis for a long time. In this segment, we meet a few of those people, and hear surprising stories of communities connecting across deep divides. Tubman House helps homeless teenage parents start a new life for themselves and their children. The Winter Sanctuary program last year opened the doors of churches to the homeless on cold nights. Both programs go beyond just providing shelter—they change people on both sides of the equation.